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05 April 2024

Professor Sir George Benjamin receives Frontiers of Knowledge Award

Professor Sir Benjamin, Henry Purcell Chair of Musical Composition, was presented the award by the BBVA Foundation in the category of Music & Opera.

Sir George Benjamin by Renske Vrolijk Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Professor Sir George Benjamin (Photo: Renske Vrolijk Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra)

This prize acknowledges Professor Sir Benjamin’s “extraordinary contribution and impact in contemporary creation in the realms of symphonic music, opera and chamber music”. He was commended by the jury for “modernizing the operatic language” while maintaining a “rigorous and fine-grained workmanship in all aspects of composition”.

We are probably talking about the most important name in contemporary music. And he is still a formidable creative force. Every new addition to his catalogue is eagerly awaited, especially in the world of opera: he writes a new one every four or five years, and with that rhythm of output and the quality of his work, expectations are always high.

Víctor García de Gomar, Artistic Director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu and Committee Secretary at the award ceremony

Professor Sir Benjamin, based in the Department of Music at King’s, is the composer of four internationally acclaimed operas in partnership with playwright Martin Crimp. It is these works that the award committee identify as where Professor Sir Benjamin has found his most unique voice by "proposing new structures and consistently presenting an emotional dramaturgy that both connects with and moves the public of the 21st century”. Leading orchestras and music institutions have presented his symphonic and chamber music globally, and he was the youngest ever composer to have his work performed at the BBC Proms.

“The opera house is where I have had my most precious experiences. I find myself losing the concept of time and place, and feel entirely united with what's happening in the music. And that's what I'm trying to do with my works, which, hopefully, for some people, will envelop and transform them.”

Professor Sir George Benjamin in his acceptance speech

The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards reward contributions of singular impact, particularly where an individual has significantly expanded an area’s stock of knowledge, introduced new fields, or built connections between disciplines. The awards aim to highlight the value of knowledge as a public good that can benefit all of humanity through its the ability to cross frontiers, address current global challenges and expand worldviews.

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In this story

George Benjamin

Henry Purcell Professor of Composition